Meet our 2017-2018 CU Denver Puksta Scholars
True Apodaca | email@example.com
Puksta Project: For my Puksta Project, i will be working with Generation Latino to create a pipeline for helping Latinos to move into the nonprofit sector. We will be placing 15 students into organizations that do work to improve the health of our community. At the same time, i am also worried about the ways new federal legislations has created a climate of concern for my community. Family are being torn apart and hate speech has become once again normalized in this country. So while i work with Generation Latino, I will also work on a social justice program that provides resources to keep families intact by providing a path to citizenship.
Career Goals: After completing my MA in Ethnic Studies and Social Science, I will pursue a career in law and public policy.
Fun Fact: I was a founding member and Vice President of the Gender and Sexualities Alliances (GSA@UCD), a student organization that has grown exponentially over the past three years providing a safe and space for LGBTQ students to meet, socialize and to create community.
Kathyrn ("Kat") Goldberg | Kathyrn.Goldberg@ucdenver.edu
Project Goals: For my Puksta project, I will work with CirclesUSA, an antipoverty campaign, to collect data regarding the Cliff Effect. The Cliff Effect is what happens when public assistance is taken away faster than salary increases occur, thus pushing poor people "off the cliff" and into dangerous situations. Working with CircleUSA, and based on the data I collect, I will address the New Mexico State Legislature in order to try to lessen the negative impact of assistance losses on those in poverty. As part of this work, I will help to develop social media platforms for bringing attention to this issue.
Career Goals: My long-term career goals include working on public policies that better support the poor and working poor in our communities.
Family: My family is my motivation. I am a widow with three teenagers, including one in college and two in high school. I am trying to help make changes so my family and families like mine have easier access to financial stability and self-sufficiency.
Miranda Johnson | Miranda.Johnson@ucdenver.edu
Project Goals: My Puksta project will focus on providing at-risk youth with opportunity, community, and a sense of importance through collaborative mentoring relationships with CU Denver student leaders. By building a network of mentoring partnerships, I hope more at-risk youth will feel empowered to be young leaders themselves. I know serving in this capacity will benefit CU Denver students as well, for by experiencing service learning and community-based activities outside of the classroom, all parties will develop the resources and skills needed to awaken their communities and to address the deep and personal roots of social inequalities.
Career Goals: My career goals involve opening my own non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of at-risk youth by providing numerous resources for success, thus building a community with supportive relationships.
Family: My father is a Latino who never graduated high school because he needed to provide for his siblings; my white mother attended Barnes Business College and achieved certification in business management; neither of my parents had the opportunity to graduate with a college degree. My multi-generational household includes my unmarried parents, my grandmother, my two nephews, and myself. Had it not been for my parents, I would not have the drive or confidence to attend this university, and my nephews may have been at risk in the foster system, or worse. Many family dynamics unfold beneath our roof, but at the end of each day, I still feel extremely blessed to be surrounded by my loving family.
Bin Phan | Bin.Phan@ucdenver.edu
Puksta Project: I plan to work with our campus office of
Educational Opportunity to bring different types of events about diversity and inclusion to the student body. As part of this project, I will mentor diverse students and allied support groups about how to talk about their experiences as minorities on campus. My project is to help our campus build a more inclusive community that respects our students' diverse experiences and needs.
Career Goals: After completing my MA in Social Sciences and Ethnic Studies, I would like to work in higher education as an Equal Opportunity Advisor for our students.
Family: My parents emigrated from Vietnam and dedicated their lives to making it possible for me and my five sisters to succeed in America, so I am proud to be a first- generation college student who brings a bilingual consciousness to my sense of social justice and community work
Jessica Rangel | Jessica.Rangel@ucdenver.edu
Project Goals: My project is to keep working for the Democratic Communication Workshops, a program where CU Denver brings college-level classes in creative writing and public speaking into five Denver-area prisons and jails. My goal is to expand our work by collaborating with more individuals across the nation. To achieve this goal, my primary focus is corresponding with incarcerated people through letter writing, editing submissions for Captured Words/Free Thoughts (our annual magazine), and both organizing and expanding our database of contacts among fellow activists, educators, journalists, and legislators. My hope is that by expanding our work, we will be able to help our incarcerated collaborators to share their experiences with others and to advocate for social change.
Career Goals: Upon completion of my degree, I intend to continue my career in higher education, either as a professor or an academic professional serving student needs. I hope to challenge students to break away from factory-mentality thinking and into seeing the world critically and from different perspectives.
Family: I come from a family of educators who have collectively sought to teach and empower marginalized groups in our community. My grandparents journeyed from being Mexican migrant workers to college graduates, instilling in my family the values of hard work and a commitment to education. Now, we have three generations of college graduates and my grandparents, parents, and I have all pursued, or are envisioning, careers in education. My family's journey and continued dedication to educating migrant, low-income, and refugee students has been influential in how I see my purpose in the world.
Alisya Rodriguez | Alisya.Rodriguez@ucdenver.edu
Puksta Project: I am deeply concerned about undocumented students who are unable to receive higher education. For my Puksta Project, I would like to raise awareness on this issue and get people involved in raising funds for DREAMER scholarships. While working on that public consciousness and fund-raising effort, I also want to work with undocumented students who would like to go to college but are not aware of the opportunities presented to them. Combined, these goals amount to my commitment to work for equality of opportunity in education for all students.
Career Goals: I dance professionally with Fiesta Colorado, a ballet folklorico, and hope to work with director and founder Jeanette Trujillo- Lucero to expand this company into a cultural dance academy that celebrates Mexican cultural traditions. Long-term, I would like to become a professor, so that I can merge teaching, research, dance, and cultural work.
Family: My grandparents are originally from San Louis Poto Si, Mexico, and migrated to Colorado to give myself, my parents, and our future generation's better educational and life opportunities. I will be the second in my family to receive a college degree behind my mother, Jessica Luna, who is an activist herself. We are both members of the DREAMers Taskforce here at the University and play leadership roles every year in the development of and fundraising for the DREAMer's gala, which takes place in October
Erin Roney | Erin.Roney@ucdenver.edu
Puksta Project: I have learned that those who are released from prison or jail need help in transitioning back into society in order to be successful, but, unfortunately, there are not a lot of programs that offer such services. To address this pressing community need, my Puksta project will focus on helping women who have been incarcerated to receive housing and support through the Denver-based Re-Entry Initiative Program. This community group empowers women through evidence-based methods and spiritual growth to restore lives, help families, and renew communities.
Career Goals: I would like to start a non-profit organization that takes donated interview attire and creates a traveling shop that enables women who have been incarcerated to pick out their own interview outfit and to receive interview advice, thus enabling them to feel confident for their next job interview.
Family: Growing up, it was just my mom, dad, and myself; I am the first generation on my mom's side to attend college. I have extended family members who have been incarcerated due to drug abuse and so questions of incarceration hit close to home and drive me to seek help for those who suffer from addiction.
Claire Shannon | Claire.Shannon@ucdenver.edu
Project Goals: Based on my work at the Denver Women's Correctional Facility, where I have been serving for the past year as a Democratic Communication Workshop
leader, I will spend my fellowship exploring how food serves as a form of empowerment and restoration for incarcerated populations. A number of jails and prisons around the nation are implementing vegetable gardens, cooking classes, and other restorative food practices into their facilities. Building upon these projects, I hope to gather local restauranteurs, community organizations, the Department of Corrections and the Sheriff Department, and other stakeholders to start conversations about incorporating similar programming into Denver-area correctional facilities.
Career Goals: Upon finishing my MA, I hope to continue working in prison activism and reform, either through research and teaching in a PhD program, or through advocacy and post-release work with a social justice organization.
Family History: I am enormously privileged to have grown up in a family where I was encouraged and supported to pursue whatever endeavor I chose to pursue, no matter how outlandish or irrational. My parents pushed me to think for myself, make my own choices, and fumble along the way. Through their example, I learned the importance of preserving human dignity and that social justice work requires that I listen to the voices of those who are oppressed.
Tiffany Tasker | Tiffany.Tasker@ucdenver.edu
Puksta Project: For my Puksta Project, I will work on providing adequate transitional housing for the homeless. The best transitional services enable our homeless neighbors to find rewarding jobs, receive financial education assistance, and participate in other coaching and mentoring sessions, which means creating holistic networks of support.
This work is both interpersonal and institution building, and requires reaching across class and race and gender divisions to find common ground.
Career Goals: After completing my BA in Ethnic Studies and Engineering, I will continue into MA and PhD programs, so that I can become a college professor who works for social justice.
Fun Facts: I am a long-time member of Aurora Youth Options, a Denver-area group committed to using one-on-one mentoring partnerships to empower youth to make successful job, career, and life choices.
Jihee Yoon | Jihee.Yoon@ucdenver.edu
Puksta Project: My Puksta Project will build upon my commitment to higher education and my passion to become an educator representing women of color in higher education. In the long-term, that means becoming a professor; in the near-term, that means working with our Asian American Student Services to create more opportunities for non-traditional students.
Career Goals: Upon completing my MA in Social Sciences and Ethnic Studies, I will pursue a PhD so that I can become a professor working with, for, and alongside other immigrant scholars.
Family: I emigrated to the United States as a young child from Seoul, South Korea, with my single mother, who has always inspired me to push through challenges to become a voice for underrepresented communities. Like so many other first-generations students, I am proud to bring my bilingual skills into higher education.
To be selected as a Puksta Scholar, students apply to either the Department of Communication (applicants should be majors or MA students) or the Department of Ethnic Studies (applicants should be majors or MA students); in both Departments, students must have an overall CU Denver GPA of 3.0 or higher and a Departmental GPA of 3.5 or higher, and must be in the junior or senior year of study.
Application packets must include a CU Denver transcript (unofficial, online versions are accepted) and a 1-page letter of intent describing the student’s social justice goals and experiences; applicants will also submit one letter of recommendation, written by a faculty member, with that letter submitted directly by the faculty member to the Department. The application process if formally announced each March, with selections for the following academic year announced in April.
Key CU Denver Puksta Contacts
- NiChel Mulstay, Director of Development and Community Outreach, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Stephen J. Hartnett, Puksta Program Coordinator for Communication, email@example.com
- Faye Caronan, Puksta Program Coordinator for Ethnic Studies, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sarah Burke-Odland, Puksta Program Liaison for Undergraduates, email@example.com
- Michelle Medal, Communication Program Assistant, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sothary Chea, Ethnic Studies Program Assistant, email@example.com